Author: Edward Ashton
Release Date: 17/2/2022
E.S.C.A.P.E Score: 52
(see below for breakdown)
I received a free ARC copy from Rebellion Publishing in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Dying isn’t any fun…but at least it’s a living.
Mickey7 is an Expendable: a disposable employee on a human expedition sent to colonize the ice world Niflheim. Whenever there’s a mission that’s too dangerous—even suicidal—the crew turns to Mickey. After one iteration dies, a new body is regenerated with most of his memories intact. After six deaths, Mickey7 understands the terms of his deal…and why it was the only colonial position unfilled when he took it.
On a fairly routine scouting mission, Mickey7 goes missing and is presumed dead. By the time he returns to the colony base, surprisingly helped back by native life, Mickey7’s fate has been sealed. There’s a new clone, Mickey8, reporting for Expendable duties. The idea of duplicate Expendables is universally loathed, and if caught, they will likely be thrown into the recycler for protein.
Mickey7 must keep his double a secret from the rest of the colony. Meanwhile, life on Niflheim is getting worse. The atmosphere is unsuitable for humans, food is in short supply, and terraforming is going poorly. The native species are growing curious about their new neighbours, and that curiosity has Commander Marshall very afraid. Ultimately, the survival of both lifeforms will come down to Mickey7.
That is, if he can just keep from dying for good.
This is my type of sci-fi! I really really enjoyed it. From the dark sarcastic humour of Mickey7, the philosophical ship of Theseus discussions and the over arching plot line of human colonization it just made for a really interesting read, while also having enough of the space opera style to make it a fast paced and snappy read.
I really enjoy this style in which this was told. Mickey our main POV character is the 7th iteration of himself and we get a lot of insight into his life and iterations 1 through 6. As Mickey is a bit of a historical hobbyist we also get a lot of information of the expansion of human colonies, those that he has learned about, both failed and successful as he tries to navigate through being the sacrificial lamb on a new colony time and time again. I really adored his pragmatism. Its maybe the Scot in me but I enjoyed the dourness to Micky’s character in points.
The universe building is also immense but not overly complicated. It struct the perfect balance in explaining the technology in a more Space Opera fashion without the reader feeling out of their depths in terms of the physics, mechanics and engineering involved. I loved that we got a glimpse of this advancement in human kind but that how the human problems of racism, classism and religious divisions still cause the majority of the problems in this universe. It was a fun and unique way to explore those aspects and again exploring the concept of self.
This has been billed as a Sci-fi thriller, but to me read much more like a space opera caper. There was a lightness in tone especially when Mickey7 and Mickey8 were at loggerheads that really reflected nicely against the darker tones of what life, humanity, self and the soul all mean. This is what good Space Opera does. It entertains throughout while also making you pause and ponder the philosophy behind it all.